Although parts of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral now lie in ruins, people can still experience what most of its nooks and crannies looked like in remarkable detail — thanks to an American art historian.
Tallon studied Gothic architecture and sought to understand how medieval builders erected some of Europe’s great cathedrals. So he created a spatial map of Notre Dame using more than a billion laser-measured points.
Even though Tallon died in December, his digital model will be crucial for restoration efforts because it details exactly what the church looked like before the fire’s destruction.
The charred interior of the Notre Dame Cathedral after Monday’s devastating fire. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Data may help architects
Restoration will take years, but Tallon’s scan data will be invaluable in the process.
Tallon set up a tripod with a laser beam in more than 50 different locations around the cathedral to gather data points and get a spatial understanding of the structure. It’s the same technology that self-driving cars use to identify objects around them, Edleson said.
The biggest part of the reconstruction will be the cathedral’s roof, much of which was destroyed in the fire.
How to rebuild a Gothic cathedral
“Scan data … will help them recreate measurements for beams and the overall structure,” said Krupali Uplekar Krusche, who leads a team at Notre Dame University that uses 3D scanning to document historic monuments.
The data can show “how the building is constructed … and you can see every corner, every detail digitally,” Krusche added.
The level of detail — which is accurate up to a couple millimeters — will prove handy when it comes to restoring the cathedral’s spire, which was intricately made, Krusche said.
Tallon’s data by itself isn’t enough to carry out a restoration, however. Architects will also need to incorporate information from past restorations, such as building materials, as well as photographs, measurements and drawings.
In deteriorating condition
The scholar co-founded an organization, Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris in America, which raises funds for repairing the beloved cathedral.
“So what I hope you can see by walking through this forest of stones is that they’re suffering,” Tallon said in the video. “Through exposure to water, through exposure to atmospheric pollution, they need some attention … a lot of attention.”